TIFF 2019’s Midnight Madness Introduces Innovative New Voices


For genre movie fans, Midnight Madness has always been TIFF’s sweet spot, introducing the world to new movies from veteran auteurs and promising newcomers. The 2019 program was announced earlier today and it seems there’s an emphasis on the latter. “This year’s selections challenge the traditional parameters of genre and shock cinema, but—most excitingly—half of the lineup’s wicked provocations are courtesy of filmmakers making their feature film debut,” said Midnight Madness lead programmer Peter Kuplowsky. “I’m delighted to welcome midnight movie institutions like Takashi Miike and Richard Stanley back to the section, and even more ecstatic to have the privilege to introduce so many transgressive, innovative, and galvanizing new voices.”

You never know what you’re going to get at Midnight Madness, particularly when you’re dealing with directorial debuts. With that in mind, here are this year’s most unpredictable selections.

1. Saint Maud


With Saint Maud, British director Rose Glass delivers a psychological horror film that “follows a pious nurse who becomes dangerously obsessed with saving the soul of her dying patient.” Horror always goes well with hospitals and religion, but if you put all three together, the sky’s the limit.

2. The Platform


In a dystopian future, prisoners in “vertically stacked cells watch hungrily as food descends from above—feeding the upper tiers, but leaving those below ravenous and radicalized.” Flirting with some of the same class-consciousness that distinguished George A. Romero’s Land of the Dead, Galder Gaztelu-Urrutia The Platform delivers what is being called a “profound parable about the socio-political potency of genre cinema.”

3. The Vast of Night


A rare debut with the ambition to venture nearly 70 years into the past, Andrew Patterson’s The Vast of Night follows two youths who “seek the source of a mysterious frequency that has descended upon a town in New Mexico.” The best part? TIFF’s describing this as a “pitch-perfect sci-fi thriller.”

4. The Vigil


How can a film about “a man providing overnight watch to a deceased member of his former Orthodox Jewish community” be “electrifying”? If he “finds himself opposite a malevolent entity,” that’s how.

The 44th Toronto International Film Festival runs from September 5 to 15. You can find details on the complete Midnight Madness program—which also includes Blood Quantum, Color Out of Space, Crazy World, First Love, Gundala, and The Twentieth Centuryhere.